Please have a look at the original article and read these 2 comments, the first being a critique of the article and the second by the author, detailing his thesis. He does it with kindness and clarity. Please read and feel free to go back to the original post and add your own thoughts. I would like to thank the author for being kind enough to post his reply here.
Eeyore for Vlad:
Kind of an old post to reply to, but that’s okay, because these kind of treaty misunderstandings are still ridiculously common today.
Study the treaties. As someone who lives on treaty land, you are under treaty as well. Part of the treaties entitle Status Indians on reserve land to special hunting and fishing privileges in turn for the land you’re living on. These treaties are still legally binding today, so if anyone has a problem with “special rights” given to Aboriginals, feel free to give back the land and leave.
As well, to say that it is unfair to reserve spots in certain institutions for Aboriginals is to ignore the Canadian government’s history of attempting to assimilate and destroy Native culture. Treaty promises were broken on the side of the Canadian government, none were broken on the side of the Natives. Residential schools robbed an entire generation of children from their culture. And now, Natives are told to “forget about the past” and “move on” as if they are on equal footing — the myth of meritocracy. These pamphlets are a prime example of the kind of ignorance and racism Aboriginal people face on a daily basis in Saskatchewan and across North America.
There’s nothing wrong with “having an opinion”. There is something wrong with having an ignorant opinion with no facts or history to back it up, and inflicting your ignorance on other people.
June 9, 2009
I am the author of the essay in the Redwing Report entitled “Canadian Human Rights Commission Ignores Parliamentary Immunity” to which you responded – and roundly criticized – last February.
That particular essay criticizes government policies that discriminate against white individuals and companies in favour of FN individuals and companies. One would be forgiven if it appears that such policies are designed to atone for abuses our ancestors visited upon aboriginals in the past. However, balancing the scales of past injustices on the backs of modern innocents is not justice; it is a fool’s game of ‘close your eyes and hope for the best’. It’s also called White Guilt.
Policies designed to ensure that FN companies get government contracts regardless of technical qualifications are, by definition, affirmative action. Awarding a contract to a company merely because the company is owned and operated by FN, virtually guarantees that work performed under such circumstances is, or will eventually be, inferior. If FN companies can perform contract work that conforms to specification and passes all QA tests, then preferential treatment is unnecessary, and ll companies would compete on a level field. The very fact that preferential treatment is required, strongly suggests that FN contractors do not, or cannot, build or perform to spec.
Similarly, affirmative action programs that leverage FN students into specially reserved university seats do not, in themselves, create better students; they create mediocre graduates. Real graduates are created by long hours of study. It’s called bloody hard work and is well known to all who have graduated from university. If FN students do not, for whatever reason, meet regular minimum entrance requirements, then perhaps universities should devise alternate programs of study. But do not lower regular entrance standards for favored groups; the consequences are degraded degrees, which are detrimental to all.
I commiserate with your bitterness at past misbegotten attempts to assimilate FN children. If we understood then what we understand now, it would never have happened. Apologies were due, apologies have been made, and reparations are underway.
You decry treaty obligations broken by Europeans. Join the party; history is rife with broken treaties. The fact that human beings can be deceptive and treacherous should really come as no surprise; nations and individuals alike are frequently required to deal with the consequences of unfulfilled pacts and promises. But, in one way or another, they do deal with the consequences and then get on with it. Weeping, moaning, blaming others, getting drunk, and quitting are not useful options.
The fact is that aboriginal peoples around the world are having difficult times dealing with modernity. As it turns out, aboriginals aren’t the only people being adversely affected by this unyielding monolith; Muslims have discovered that their hermetically sealed 13th century religion-based culture is totally incompatible with modernity. While they also bitch, moan, and whine, they have taken it one really serious step further; they have wheeled out jihad, a devastating 13th century weapon of hatred, violence, death and destruction. They direct their anger against all who are different – including their own. In contrast, FN people turn their anger and frustrations inward and flail themselves.
Erica, your response is long on criticism but short on solutions. If the white man can’t get it right, what to you propose? How do you see your world unfolding? You mention the meritocracy myth, which is unfortunate because merit is a major characteristic on which life in the modern world is based. Economic and educational transactions are no longer based on tribal affiliations and if you are suggesting some kind of liberalized substitute for the pursuit of excellence, you are talking to a barn door.
Unless, of course, you are talking to governments. Governments desperately want the FN problem to go away in the least politically offensive way. If that means yielding to demands for preferential treatment that promotes dependency at the expense of self-sufficiency, governments are more than happy to comply. Governments are into nice, not tough, love.
If you wait long enough, Western Civilization will eventually disappear and be replaced by something else. The ‘something else’ might be a catastrophic return to earlier times inhabited by our common ancestors. Or it might be a world dominated by Islam or by Asians.
Good luck living in either world.
Or you can stop trying to recreate the good old pre-Columbian world where the deer and the antelope played, deal with the present, and prepare for the future. Stop using those ancient broken treaties as crutches; they happened, they cannot be unbroken.
Discard your anger, your frustrations and your improbable dreams. Buckle down and redirect your energies to educating your children so they won’t live their lives in despair and hopelessness. Don’t rely on broken dreams; lead with courage, character, and strength.
How many more of your young men are going to follow Christopher Alexander and Christopher Pauchay? Do they represent your future? Are these young men your fallen heroes? No, they are not.
But speaking of FN men, I think you have been ill-served by the men who purport to be your leaders. I get the impression that if their interests, both as groups and as individuals, do not coincide with FN peoples’ interest, the peoples’ interests tend to be subverted. I think that your interests will be better served by groups such the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Women’s Council. At least some of these women are articulate and seem to be knowledgeable and honest. In fact, one of them, Jackie Fletcher, has a letter in today’s (June 9/09) National Post.
Your future lies within yourselves, not with government bureaucrats whose policies are more often crafted to enhance their personal résumés than to do what is best for their charges, your people. As long as you seek the protection of mother government and Human Rights Tribunals, you will never make it on your own. Resourcefulness, resilience, and courage in face of adversity are qualities that movers and doers look for. You have these qualities; dig them out, polish them up, and apply them.
Governments might show you paths on which to direct your feet, but must not be the agents to move your feet. — Gerry Porter